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20 NOVEMBER 2014

 

Oliveira Passes Toughest Test


The maturation process for undefeated 21-year-old middleweight Michael "The Brazilian Rocky" Oliveira (15-0, 12 KOs)spiked last Friday night after his impressive eighth-round win against veteran Xavier "The X-Man" Tolliver (23-7, 15 KOs) in the middleweight prospect’s first fight on American television. Oliveira won by disqualification on a World Championship edition of Shobox: The Next Generation, LIVE on SHOWTIME┬« from Cohen Stadium in El Paso, Texas.

Oliveira weathered Tolliver’s first-round onslaught, showing tremendous poise for such a young boxer, controlling the remainder of the bout until referee Richard Chapa, who had deducted a point in the fifth from Tolliver for repeated head-butts, disqualified Tolliver for landing a punch after a break. Oliveira led all on the three judges’ cards after seven rounds by identical scores of 69-63.

"This was the hardest fight I’ve ever been in," the well-spoken Oliveira said after the fight. "My conditioning was superior thanks to Orlando (Cuellar, head trainer) and Steve (Arintok, conditioning coach). I’ll be even better the next time.

"Everything happens for a reason. My dedication to training and the help I get from my team are responsible for my improvement. I never had anybody to guide me until Orlando and Steve at Thump Fight Gym (in Miami). All I need to do is work hard and listen to my coaches. I really wanted the knockout and would have had it if the referee hadn’t disqualified my opponent. I was ready to drop him and got robbed of a knockout."

WBC No. 15-rated Oliveira, the reigning World Boxing Council ("WBC") South American middleweight champion, was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil but moved two weeks later with his family to Miami.

"Michael is improving fight by fight," Oliveira’s father/promoter Carlos noted. "We knew he had heart and guts, but I was really impressed by the patience he showed when Tolliver came out swinging in the opening round. Michael didn’t panic, listened to his corner, and executed. We will keep Michael fighting often so he can continue improving. We’re looking at a fight in January and a big one in New York City in March."

Cuellar, who is best known as Glen Johnson’s trainer, has worked with Oliveira for only two fights, but Michael’s dramatic improvement is evident to anybody who has watched the once-chunky fighter for any period of time. Orlando gave his pupil a 10-grade for his performance against Tolliver.


"We took a gamble fighting Tolliver," Cuellar remarked. "A lot of people said we were making a mistake, stepping up so much, but we knew how impressive Michael had looked in training camp. We wanted a tough opponent for Michael in his first nationally televised test. Michael used three speeds very effectively - lulling, fast and faster. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 the highest, I give him a 10 because he listened, improved his defense and stayed focused. I told him to go after and put pressure on Tolliver. He’s a good listener. He jabbed, feinted and moved his head as I instructed.

"Michael fought a very, very good fight. He may not have much experience having had only two amateur fighters, but he has my experience, as long as he listens and he’s been doing that. He listened and did everything we worked on. I couldn’t be more pleased. Michael’s an aggressive fighter but, defensively, he’s improved a lot and like we prepared, everything came off his good jab."

November 16, 2011


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